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Home of the Dragon: The Targaryen historical past behind HBO’s Sport of Thrones prequel

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Home of the Dragon, the long-awaited prequel to Sport of Thrones, is lastly right here, and what which means: It’s time for a refresher course on the Targaryens — the household that dominated for 3 centuries over all of Westeros. Thanks to 1 proficient fanartist, we now have a beautiful household tree that can assist you determine what’s taking place and who’s who.
Notice: This text comprises in depth potential plot spoilers for Home of the Dragon,
The sequence adapts parts of George R.R. Martin’s Fireplace and Blood, a group of tales accompanying the Track of Ice and Fireplace sequence upon which the Sport of Thrones universe is predicated. The e-book is a partial historical past of the Targaryens, with whom followers will likely be well-acquainted, since their reign stretches from Daenerys all the best way again to the primary king of Westeros. They’re famed for his or her means to tame dragons; therefore, “home of the dragon.” That uncommon expertise helped the Targaryens set up an immense dynasty over the realm; however as all the time after we’re coping with Sport of Thrones, even empires can topple, and the iron throne isn’t a secure place to sit down.

As a result of we’re coping with a prequel, we’re going to be dropping some main plot factors for each the e-book sequence and the present, so be warned: from right here on in, there be dragons and spoilers!
In case you’re anticipating acquainted faces, you’re in for a shock: Home of the Dragon takes place 190 years or so earlier than the storyline of Sport of Thrones begins, and although many issues have stayed the identical by means of the centuries — King’s Touchdown remains to be the capital of Westeros, the Starks are nonetheless the lords of Winterfell — we now have an entire forged of characters to familiarize ourselves with and complex household dynamics to parse.
We’re launched to a number of the key gamers in Home of the Dragon’s first episode, however there’s a serious studying curve due to the sheer measurement of the Targaryen household and their tendency to repeat names from technology to technology. Different household timber on this universe are sometimes simpler to comply with as a result of they’re, for instance, all named after the Muppets; however with the Targaryens, you could have one thing like a dozen Aegons, a half-dozen Aemons, a slew of Viseryses, and on and on. Oh, and let’s not overlook their notorious tendency to marry one another — a enjoyable Targaryen trait we’ll quickly witness.
We received’t know every thing the TV sequence will retain from the books, after all, so a number of what we’ll be discussing is theory primarily based on the principle plot traces of Fireplace and Blood. The sequence has made some modifications, however many of the main occasions on this tumultuous Targaryen period are thus far the identical.
The sequence plops us in the course of an ongoing simmering household battle about — what else? — succession. In case you’re confused about the place precisely we’re within the Targaryen household timeline, by no means worry: DeviantArt consumer Maryon B.’s Targaryen household tree is a beautiful (and GRRM-approved!) highway map by means of three centuries of giant Targaryen broods, inside squabbles, civil battle, and, sure, inbreeding.
We first launched Vox readers to Maryon’s fanart all the best way again in 2016, when she gave us her insights on the lengthy course of of making the tree. (Notice: Maryon is now not lively on DeviantArt, however you’ll be able to comply with her Instagram, the place she’s begun sharing excerpts from the tree.) A 12 months later, the tree got here in useful to assist clarify one of many sequence’ greatest plot twists. Now, the “Targtree” can fulfill its final objective and assist us all prep for the sequence! Click on right here for the full-size model.

We stan a lovingly detailed infogram.

Poly-M/DeviantArt

Home of the Dragon lands in the course of the household tree, about midway between the time the primary Aegon Targaryen, generally known as Aegon the Conqueror, united all of Westeros, and the ultimate fall of Daenerys Targaryen within the sequence finale of Sport of Thrones. The occasions depicted in Home of the Dragon’s first episode set us as much as enter the interval highlighted on the household tree because the Dance of Dragons — a time when the query of succession break up the Targaryens aside and led to a brutal civil battle.

The Dance of Dragons period of the Targ household tree.

poly-hebdo/Tumblr

The years previous the start of the present witnessed a protracted interval of combating generally known as the Religion Militant Rebellion that ended solely when the reigning king, the merciless Maegor I, died mysteriously. After his loss of life, the one remaining son of the earlier king, Jaehaerys I, succeeded to the throne.
However due to the previous technology of chaos, the road of succession isn’t clear. So, at first of Home of the Dragon, Jaehaerys summons a council to decide on the subsequent inheritor. The 2 Targaryens with the perfect declare to the throne are his grandson, Viserys, and his granddaughter-slash-grandniece, Rhaenys. They’re each his grandchildren, so each have an equal declare to the throne. However as a result of Westeros has by no means had a queen as ruler earlier than, the council chooses Viserys to be the subsequent ruler; thus he turns into Viserys I.
Nonetheless, Rhaenys, nicknamed “the Queen That By no means Was,” is a well-liked member of the royal household, and many individuals nonetheless profess loyalty to her and her progeny. In the meantime, till Viserys can produce a male inheritor — or till the court docket decides it’s tremendous for a lady to rule — his brother Daemon is subsequent in line to succeed to the throne. However Daemon isn’t precisely a preferred selection.
Let’s take a better have a look at our important gamers. If the books are any indication, their projected storylines received’t be all roses.
The Older Technology
Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine)

A smart however silly king.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Viserys, performed within the present by Paddy Considine, is a sort and beneficiant king who brings stability to the realm. Nonetheless, in the case of the query of succession, he’s fanciful to a fault in his pursuit of a male inheritor. This results in him making a horrible choice that ends in the loss of life of his first spouse, Aemma, and their new child son. It additionally results in him hedging his bets about who his inheritor ought to be after he remarries and has extra youngsters. His indecision leads the heirs in query — his daughter Rhaenyra and his son Aegon — to battle for the crown.
This battle performs out whereas the king remains to be alive, main him into frequent tussles together with his family members as he makes an attempt to wrangle all of them into submission and clear the best way for his daughter, Rhaenyra, to inherit the throne. Nonetheless, not occasionally, the one he winds up butting heads with is Rhaenyra herself.
Rhaenys (Eve Greatest) and Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint)

Viserys greeting the Velaryon OGs, Corlys aka “the Sea Snake” and his spouse Rhaenys.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Rhaenys, a.ok.a. “the Queen That By no means Was,” is the product of a wedding between Jaehaerys’s eldest son Aemon and Aemon’s personal aunt, Jocelyn Baratheon. In her adolescence, she gained fame as one of many Targaryen dragonriders in addition to for her magnificence. At 16, Rhaenys married a person practically 20 years her senior: the gallant Corlys Velaryon, generally known as the “Sea Snake” for his daring sea expeditions. (Their age distinction appears to be lowered within the TV sequence.) Collectively, they make an influence couple at court docket, and their youngsters proceed to have a declare to the throne. However as a result of Rhaenys is a lady, and since her oldest inheritor, Laena, can be a lady, her household continues to be handed over for the road of succession — which incessantly places her and Corly at odds with King Viserys.
The blacks: Rhaenyra, Daemon, and their youngsters
For extra context on “the greens” and “the blacks”, take a look at our article on Alicent’s inexperienced costume.
Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock / Emma D’Arcy)

Is she a hero or an antihero? Time will inform.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Rhaenyra is Viserys’s firstborn youngster, the daughter of his first spouse Aemma. Intelligent and athletic, Rhaenyra (performed by Milly Alcock as a teen) is at first extra excited about driving her dragon, Syrax, than in profitable video games of thrones. That modifications when her father can’t make up his thoughts who to nominate as his inheritor, and she or he turns into first an unwitting pawn after which an lively participant within the battle for succession.
Following Aemma’s loss of life, Viserys marries Alicent Hightower (performed by Emily Carey as a youthful girl), a woman only some years older than Rhaenyra herself. As she grows up, Rhaenyra finds herself at odds along with her former pal Alicent, and shortly they’re locked in a battle over whether or not Rhaenyra or Alicent’s son Aegon ought to take the throne after Viserys’s loss of life.
Their supporters grow to be divided into “blacks” and “greens” after the 2 ladies make vogue statements at a tourney following the wedding; “blacks” are Rhaenyra’s supporters after she dons a robe in conventional Targaryen purple and black. The greens and the blacks aren’t nearly who’s extra well-liked; the greens additionally signify the widespread perception {that a} girl shouldn’t be capable to inherit the crown. Assist for Rhaenyra, a.ok.a. figuring out as one of many blacks, is an indication of help for girls’s equality.
Rhaenyra’s love life is its personal dramatic saga. She stays enamored all her life along with her personal uncle, Daemon, who’s 16 years older. She additionally has a factor for a dashing knight named Criston Cole (performed by Fabien Frankel), who we see getting flirty along with her within the first ep. Criston, nonetheless, in the end turns into her enemy after he allies with Aegon and convinces him to go for the crown.
Later, Viserys, attempting to dodge his spouse Alicent’s suggestion to marry Rhaenyra to their son Aegon, pressures her into marrying Rhaenys’s son Laenor Velaryon as an alternative. Rhaenyra hates this concept — for one factor, Laenor is homosexual — however Viserys threatens to disinherit her until she agrees. The 2 wind up having three strapping sons, however their actual father is mostly considered Rhaenyra’s lover, Harwin Sturdy (Ryan Corr), who serves as Rhaenyra’s loyal servant and sworn protect. Or, as our artist Maryon stated, “Don’t name them Strongs — even when they’re in each methods.”

Rhaenyra’s actual nuclear household?

poly-hebdo/Tumblr

Issues don’t finish nicely for Rhaenyra and Harwin, sadly — the scenario is simply too unstable for Rhaenyra to maintain a lover on the facet whereas the road of succession is in dispute, and the king sends Harwin into exile. Rhaenyra responds by secretly marrying her uncle Daemon after Laenor Valeryon’s loss of life — which infuriates her father.
Within the ensuing drama, and with battle heating up between Rhaenyra and Alicent and Aegon, she relocates to the Targaryen maintain of Dragonstone, which implies she’s not round when King Viserys dies. As a substitute of telling Rhaenyra about her father’s loss of life, Alicent and Aegon put together to anoint Aegon as the brand new king. When Rhaenyra finds out, she enters right into a rage from which she by no means absolutely recovers. In her quest to take the throne for herself, she winds up going to some very darkish locations. However the two sons she bears with Daemon, Viserys II and Aegon III, in the end do each grow to be rulers of Westeros, so maybe ultimately, she wins.

Luke (Harvey Sadler) and Jace (Leo Hart) as youngsters.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Jacaerys Velaryon (Leo Hart / Harry Collett)
Because the eldest of Rhaenyra’s three sons, Jace bears an undue quantity of strain — and since everybody is aware of he and his fellow brown-haired brothers have been born out of wedlock, fathered by Rhaenyra’s guard Harwin Sturdy, he additionally bears the sting of illegitimacy. Titled the Prince of Dragonstone, Jace rides the dragon Vermax and carries out his duties as Rhaenyra’s inheritor faithfully and loyally. Nonetheless, the rising rivalry between his household and Alicent’s in the end consumes him, together with practically everybody round him.
Lucerys Velaryon (Harvey Sadler /Elliot Grihault)
Center youngster Luke makes up in ferocity and grit what he lacks in age. Because the rider of Arrax, he initially promised his mother he’d abstain from combating in the course of the vicious civil battle. As a substitute, because the inadvertent lifelong rival of Aegon II, he in the end turns into the poster boy for the rivalry between Alicent’s clan and Rhaenyra’s clan.
Joffrey Velaryon
To provide you an concept of how difficult the Velaryon household bonds are, Joffrey is definitely named after Laenor’s old flame, Joffrey Lonmouth — a person who seems briefly in HotD solely to satisfy a horrible finish by the hands of Ser Criston Cole.
Joffrey’s complicated household historical past, in addition to his being on the very middle of the nation’s civil battle alongside his two older brothers, appears to have taken its toll. He grows up reckless and decided to show himself worthy of their bravery and braveness, regardless of being far too younger for combating. He rides the dragon Tyraxes.
Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith)

He’s scorching, then he’s chilly.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Daemon Targaryen is well-liked with everybody besides the individuals who could make him the subsequent king. King Viserys’s right-hand man, Otto Hightower (performed by Rhys Ifans), repeatedly blocks Daemon from changing into the subsequent inheritor after which chooses Rhaenyra over him as successor — a minimum of, he does till his personal daughter Alicent marries the king.
However for all his enemies suspect him of plotting to take over the throne, Daemon, a.ok.a. the “rogue prince,” has higher issues to do, like seducing his brother’s daughter Rhaenyra and conquering his personal kingdom. Daemon is congenial however aggressive, and he has a foul behavior of killing all his potential love rivals. He falls for Rhaenys’s daughter Laena Velaryon — a handy match when it comes to sustaining his place at court docket — however Laena’s already engaged. No downside; he kills his rival in a duel.
Later, rumor has it he murders his personal brother-in-law, Laenor Velaryon, then married to Rhaenyra. Then he perhaps seals the deal by murdering Rhaenyra’s lover Harwin, thereby efficiently taking out each of his rivals for Rhaenyra’s hand, and marrying her. In the end, all of this will have simply been Daemon’s manner of getting as near the throne as he might. In brief, Daemon Targaryen is just not a person you need to cross.

The Velaryon youngsters.

poly-m/DeviantArt

Laenor Velaryon
Laena and Laenor have restricted selections of their roles as heirs to the mighty Home Velaryon. They every wind up marrying into the Targaryen dynasty — Laenor varieties a wedding of comfort with Rhaenyra that permits him to dwell freely as a homosexual man below her safety whereas she pursues her love affair with Harwin Sturdy. Although he didn’t marry for love, he makes the perfect of it, and nobly claims every of her three clearly illegitimate youngsters as his personal.
Laena Velaryon
We first meet Laena at age 12 as she’s being provided in marriage by her dad and mom to a mortified King Viserys. She fortunately fares higher after that and winds up distinguishing herself as a dragonrider and noblewoman. She marries Daemon they usually dwell collectively fortunately whereas she raises her twin daughters, Rhaena and Baela. Sadly, she doesn’t have the simplest destiny in the case of childbirth — however suffice it to say she doesn’t go down quietly.
Baela Targaryen (Shani Smethurst / Bethany Antonia)
Rhaena Targaryen (Phoebe Campbell / Eva Ossei-Gerning)

The twins.

Ollie Upton/HBO

We barely get to know Laena Velaryon on HotD earlier than she dies (how else) horrifically; however she clearly passes her spirit and the Aristocracy alongside to her two daughters with Daemon.
Although the Targaryen sisters are twins, they’re opposites in most methods: Baela’s a tomboy who loves combating and flying, Rhaena turns into the darling socialite of King’s Touchdown; Rhaena rides the dragon Morning, Baela rides the dragon Moondancer; Rhaena is a diplomat, Baela a warrior.
At one level they’re each engaged to their cousins — Baela to Jace and Rhaena to Luke. However in the end these marriages by no means occur; as an alternative, each ladies are destined to play pivotal roles in knitting the dominion collectively after the battle. Via all of it, their completely different personalities show important to this effort: As a natural-born insurgent, Baela works her manner, whereas the refined and political Rhaena works hers. However the essential factor — a rarity amongst Westerosi — is that as sisters, they’re all the time working collectively.
Mysaria (Sonoya Mizuno)

A dancer with eyes all over the place.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Generally referred to as “Distress,” Mysaria begins out as a intercourse employee in King’s Touchdown however shortly turns into indispensable to her patron and lover Daemon as a supply of data. (At one level, he claims to be about to marry her, however she rejects him; we’d name her the spouse that wasn’t.) From there, she turns into the rating spy first for Daemon and later for Rhaenyra, which makes her some of the highly effective folks in Westeros. Not too shabby for a dancer from Essos.
The greens: Alicent and her youngsters

Alicent’s fierce and fiercely loyal brood.

poly-m/DeviantArt

Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey / Olivia Cooke)
On one degree, the Dance of Dragons is de facto concerning the conflict between two former mates, Alicent and Rhaenyra, who grew up within the king’s court docket collectively solely to be pulled into reverse sides of the continuing dispute over who will inherit the throne. The Hightowers have been and are a small however highly effective home; Alicent’s father, Otto Hightower, served as Hand of the King to Jaehaerys after which as Hand to Viserys.
The Hightowers haven’t all the time had essentially the most fruitful relationship with the crown; a number of generations prior, Maegor I’s unsuccessful marriage to a Hightower provoked dissension amongst her highly effective household and kicked off the occasions resulting in the Religion Militant Rebellion. Now, Otto schemes efficiently to current his daughter Alicent to Viserys as an appropriate bride. They’re married when she’s simply 18.

Rhaenyra and Alicent are the perfect of mates, till they aren’t.

Ollie Upton/HBO

A notice on royal marriages right here: In Martin’s historical past of the Targaryens, the timeline is usually compressed, with many royals forming alliances and marrying at very younger ages. In Fireplace and Blood, Viserys marries Aemma when he’s simply 16 and she or he’s solely 11. (She dies in childbirth at age 23.) He later marries Alicent at age 29, when she’s 18 and his personal daughter Rhaenyra is simply 9.
In Home of the Dragon, all of those characters have been aged up considerably aside from Alicent, who remains to be 18-ish. This makes her a lot nearer in age to Rhaenyra — far more of a peer than a stepmother twice her age. However that additionally implies that as an alternative of an 18-year-old being coerced into marrying a 29-year-old, she’s an 18-year-old being coerced into marrying a person of about 50. This makes the problems of consent, management, and energy imbalance even starker, and arguably makes Alicent’s position within the story to return one which’s much less about power-seeking and extra about survival.
Initially, Alicent desires her personal son, Aegon, to marry Rhaenyra, despite the fact that there’s a substantial age distinction between them. (That they’re additionally half-siblings is simply tremendous, after all.) When that doesn’t fly with Viserys, she finally ends up selling Aegon as inheritor above Rhaenyra. The ladies’s battle deepens when Rhaenyra’s former crush, Criston Cole, turns into loyal to the Hightowers and in the end turns into Alicent’s private sworn protect. Alicent’s coloration is inexperienced, which makes her supporters “the greens” against Rhaenyra’s “blacks.”

Alicent is a tough determine; she alternately tries to make peace with Rhaenyra and keep away from battle whereas strategizing methods to place Aegon on the throne. Rumors abound that she poisoned her personal husband, the king, to be able to hasten his demise and crown Aegon whereas Rhaenyra’s again was successfully turned.
Like most of our different gamers, the pursuit of the throne doesn’t finish nicely for her or lots of her progeny. However she does pull off her authentic aim: She survives to see her son grow to be ruler of Westeros. Via succeeding generations, the Hightowers stay rich and highly effective; following the conquest of Dorne, they grow to be loyal to Home Tyrell. (If the title is acquainted, Margaery Tyrell’s mom is a Hightower.)
Aegon II Targaryen (Ty Tennant / Tom Glynn-Carney)

Ty Tennant as Aegon.

Ollie Upton/HBO

It’s straightforward to see why there was a lot resistance to Alicent’s son Aegon changing into king: He’s like a smarmier, hornier Prince Joffrey. In earlier present appearances, Aegon comes off like a typical whiny teen, entitled, oblivious to the political intrigues round him, masturbating out a window of the Crimson Hold. However we all know from Fireplace and Blood that, like everybody else in Westeros, he finally wises up and turns into brutal and vengeful in his quest for the throne.
Helaena Targaryen (Evie Allen / Phia Saban)

Alicent (Olivia Cooke) talks to daughter Helaena (Evie Allen).

Ollie Upton / HBO

We don’t know all that a lot about Helaena’s persona, however her position within the Dance of Dragons will likely be pivotal. She’s the second of Alicent’s 4 youngsters, rides the silver dragon Dreamfyre, and, sadly, she is destined to marry her skeevy older brother Aegon. Because the eventual queen, Helaena is well-liked in King’s Touchdown and beloved by the folks of Westeros. She’s going to grow to be fiercely protecting of her personal three youngsters, however the occasions that play out in the course of the civil battle is not going to bode nicely for both her or her progeny.
Aemond Targaryen (Leo Ashton / Ewan Mitchell)

A younger Aemond (Leo Ashton) tries to show himself.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Once we first meet Aemond on HotD, he’s the weakling of the Targaryen clan, bullied particularly by older brother Aegon, with Rhaenyra’s sons becoming a member of in. He’s the one one of many Targaryen youngsters who hasn’t managed to bond with a dragon, which makes him a supply of ridicule among the many others. However whereas he could also be afraid, he’s not a coward, and a pivotal second in his childhood varieties the premise of an epic lifelong rivalry between Aemond and the three Velaryon brothers, particularly the center brother, Lucerys. Aemond finally rides the largest, most fearsome dragon of all, Vhagar — however this victory, like most in Westeros, has a value.

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